Momentum Builds For Back to Church Sunday

July 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Christian News

Momentum is building across the US for national “Back To Church Sunday,” set for September 12. Already more than 1,500 churches across the country have committed to inviting people who once attended church – but who don’t anymore – to special worship services.

Last year, hundreds of churches took part in the first national “Back To Church Sunday” ( www.backtochurch.com), which saw members invite more than 700,000 friends and family. This year, an estimated 1 million “unchurched” and “dechurched” people will be invited to the special day.

A survey by Outreach, Inc., a California-based church marketing company supporting the initiative, found that last year’s participating churches increased their weekend attendance on average by 19 percent.

“A recent survey of 15,000 Americans indicated that 67 percent would be open to an invitation to church coming from a member of their family,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, an organization dedicated to church health and effectiveness. “‘Back To Church Sunday’ is a great opportunity for reminding and refocusing church members to reach out to their unchurched family members.”

In a separate study, the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey showed that 83 percent of American adults identify themselves as Christians. In contrast, another survey that same year by the Barna Group, a leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture, indicated only about 20 percent of Americans attend a church on any given Sunday.

When Mount Sterling First United Methodist Church in Mt. Sterling, Ky., participated in “Back To Church Sunday” in 2009, response was well beyond expectations.

“Our sanctuary was full,” said Debi Lambert, the church’s evangelism and outreach leader. “We saw our attendance that day increased 40 percent over our normal attendance for that time of year.”

Unchurched families that visited that Sunday have become members, Lambert said. Others attend periodically. That’s why the Mount Sterling church anticipates an even greater response to the 2010 event. “Everybody at church has gotten on board and is excited and involved,” Lambert said.

Outreach Inc. provides churches with resources and tools for the “Back To Church Sunday” campaign, helping them plan and implement a successful event. The campaign kit includes a planning guide; booklets; resource CD with sermons, graphics and PowerPoint templates; promotional video and other outreach materials and tools.

Inviting newcomers is only part of the campaign. Churches are also encouraged to make their facilities visitor-friendly, paying attention to details important to those who haven’t tried church in a while.

In support of “Back to Church Sunday,” Outreach also supports the “Back To Church Sunday” Facebook page ( www.facebook.com/backtochurch) and a roster of participating churches on the Back to Church Sunday website. When churches go to the website and register their participation, their names and locations are added to the roster.

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